clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Definition of clumsy

1a : lacking dexterity, nimbleness, or grace clumsy fingers
b : lacking tact or subtlety a clumsy joke
2 : awkward or inefficient in use or construction : unwieldy a clumsy contraption criticized her sentence for its clumsy construction

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Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ ˈkləm-​zə-​lē How to pronounce clumsily (audio) \ adverb
clumsiness \ ˈkləm-​zē-​nəs How to pronounce clumsiness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for clumsy

awkward, clumsy, maladroit, inept, gauche mean not marked by ease (as of performance, movement, or social conduct). awkward is widely applicable and may suggest unhandiness, inconvenience, lack of muscular control, embarrassment, or lack of tact. periods of awkward silence clumsy implies stiffness and heaviness and so may connote inflexibility, unwieldiness, or lack of ordinary skill. a clumsy mechanic maladroit suggests a tendency to create awkward situations. a maladroit politician inept often implies complete failure or inadequacy. a hopelessly inept defense attorney gauche implies the effects of shyness, inexperience, or ill breeding. felt gauche and unsophisticated at formal parties

Examples of clumsy in a Sentence

I'm sorry about spilling your wine—that was very clumsy of me. I have very clumsy hands and tend to drop things. She made a clumsy attempt at a joke.
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Recent Examples on the Web District attorneys scrambling to respond to clumsy legislative action DPS officials said any variance in arrests is based on direction from local prosecutors. Allie Morris,, "Texas Highway Patrol is releasing some, jailing others who are caught with marijuana," 3 Jan. 2020 But Walker charged forward and clogged Drummond’s lane, forcing him into a clumsy-looking travel., "Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown take control in Celtics rout - The Boston Globe," 21 Dec. 2019 Through the first debates, Buttigieg has faced questions about his handling of a white South Bend police officer's shooting of a black man armed with a knife and of the clumsy rollout in South Carolina of his Douglass Plan to help African Americans. Chris Sikich, Indianapolis Star, "Front-runners are targeting Pete Buttigieg ahead of the December Democratic debate," 19 Dec. 2019 So for the time being, iPhone and iPad users are stuck with the clumsy Bluetooth dongles when using MFA to log in to Google sites. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "iPhones and iPads finally get key-based protection against account takeovers," 17 Dec. 2019 This works well enough as a boilerplate cat-and-mouse game for a while, but the spirit of sly, nimble feminism is too often dragged down by clumsy plot mechanics, and the movie tumbles into sheer ridiculosity when the horror turns otherworldly. Leah Greenblatt,, "Black Christmas gives holiday horror a clumsy girl-power update," 13 Dec. 2019 There can be no slips of the tongue, no clumsy expression. Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, "Democrats’ Cannibalistic Ideology," 10 Dec. 2019 In one segment during the show, Lopez played a lovestruck version of herself falling for Pete Davidson‘s recurring character, Chad, the clumsy PA on Lopez’s tour. Eric Todisco,, "Jennifer Lopez Receives Surprise Visit from Alex Rodriguez in Hilarious Saturday Night Live Skit," 8 Dec. 2019 As Queen and Slim dance in the bar, the soundtrack conveys the urgency of their union with more grace than the clumsy dialogue deployed elsewhere in the movie. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "The Best Part of Queen & Slim Is the Soundtrack," 20 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'clumsy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of clumsy

circa 1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for clumsy

probably from obsolete English clumse benumbed with cold

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Time Traveler for clumsy

Time Traveler

The first known use of clumsy was circa 1598

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Statistics for clumsy

Last Updated

14 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Clumsy.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 24 January 2020.

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More Definitions for clumsy


How to pronounce clumsy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of clumsy

: moving or doing things in a very awkward way and tending to drop or break things
: badly or awkwardly made or done
: hard to use : awkward to handle


clum·​sy | \ ˈkləm-zē How to pronounce clumsy (audio) \
clumsier; clumsiest

Kids Definition of clumsy

1 : lacking skill or grace in movement clumsy fingers
2 : awkwardly or carelessly made or done a clumsy apology a clumsy error
3 : awkward to handle a clumsy package

Other Words from clumsy

clumsily \ -​zə-​lē \ adverb
clumsiness \ -​zē-​nəs \ noun

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More from Merriam-Webster on clumsy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for clumsy

Spanish Central: Translation of clumsy

Nglish: Translation of clumsy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of clumsy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on clumsy

What made you want to look up clumsy? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a feeling of well-being or elation

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